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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Assembly Required is a building competition show hosted by former Home Improvement stars Tim Allen and Richard Karn and popular DIY YouTuber April Wilkerson. Allen and Karn are essentially still playing their Tool Time characters, so there's similar mild language ("hell," "crap") and slightly off-color jokes. The contestants are skilled engineers, tinkerers, and makers, but Allen's teasing insults bring down the positive vibes. There is extensive product placement, with gratuitous shots from the show's sponsors and numerous logos on tools in the contestants' workshops.
This show has unlimited potential
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Richard Karn and the concept for the show a pretty good
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What's the Story?
In each episode of ASSEMBLY REQUIRED, three different makers build contraptions for a chance to win a cash prize. The show is hosted by Tim Allen and Richard Karn, and while the show is not an official spin-off of Home Improvement, Allen and Karn are essentially reprising their roles of Tim "Tool Man" Taylor and his sidekick Al. The makers are competing from their home workshops, and have to complete building challenges with crates of supplies shipped to them by the show. Challenges include making machines like a fire-extinguisher backpack or an ice-melting leaf blower. Along the way, expert maker April Wilkerson steps in to explain some of the engineering or science concepts the contestants are using in their work. At the end of the challenge, the contestants ship their inventions to Allen and Karn, who put them to the test and decide on the winner.
Is It Any Good?
This Home-Improvement-ified reality competition show falls a bit flat. It does feature some immensely talented fabricators, tradespeople, and makers, which are fun to watch. Allen's hyper-masculine Tool Time shtick feels a bit out of sync with today's sensibilities, and many of his insult-based jokes don't quite land. Co-host Wilkerson is a breath of fresh air as a super competent maker, but Allen and Karn come across as only being interested in "more power" and not that knowledgeable about building things. Because Assembly Required doesn't enlighten the viewer on many of the technical aspects, it's somewhat difficult to follow along as the contestants are building their contraptions. The COVID-19 friendly remote production style makes for somewhat awkward television -- the contestants don't interact with each other, and it's clear that a bunch of voiceover narrations were recorded after the fact to try to stitch the storyline together. Also, the machines the contestants build are kind of silly; they're not solving real-world problems and they're not over-the-top enough to be awe-inspiring. Kids into engineering and fabrication may like Assembly Required, but there are better choices out there in this genre (Mythbusters Jr., Lego Masters, Emily's Wonder Lab, etc.) that kids will like more.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the makers. How do you think they learned all those skills they used in the competition? Is there anything you would like to try to build?
The hosts tease each other and the contestants a lot. Do you think this type of teasing is okay? Why or why not?
The expert builder April is a woman, but most of the contestants aren't. Why do you think there aren't more women makers on the show?
- Premiere date: February 23, 2021
- Cast: Tim Allen, Richard Karn, April Wilkerson
- Network: History
- Genre: Reality TV
- Topics: STEM
- TV rating: NR
- Last updated: December 8, 2022
Our Editors Recommend
Laughs and lessons abound in whole-family sitcom.
Witty team puts urban legends to the scientific test.
Reality craft competition is mild and uninspiring.
For kids who love DIY
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